The Drama Triangle: Part 2
Updated: May 26
In my previous blog I wrote about how the Drama Triangle* can be used as a means of identifying the kind of thinking we are doing when things aren't working well for us. Since our thoughts drive our behaviours, awareness of the drama roles we might be playing can help us to understand why we are reacting to a situation in a particular way.
Let me remind you of the key players involved:
The Persecutor believes that someone else or something else is at fault. They blame others, make them feel guilty, and point out that they are wrong and need to change.
The Victim believes that either they aren’t good enough or the situation they are in is hopeless. They believe they are powerless and are quick to point out that nothing can be done.
The Rescuer believes that others can’t manage without them and they need help in some way. They train victims to become disempowered, and appease persecutors whilst building up resentment towards them.
In the blog I wrote about:
the signs of drama;
the reasons drama arises;
the cost of being in drama.
When we are 'in drama' our brain's limbic system (shown in red) triggers a protective threat response that is designed to keep us safe. You could even call this part of the brain our 'drama brain'!
Drama is an inevitable part of life, but we can support ourselves to manage it. This process starts with awareness - with noticing when drama arises within us. There are simple steps we can then take to help settle ourselves - both in the moment and after the event.
Let’s begin with a short meditation that invites us to bring a different kind of awareness to our experience when we are in drama.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF AWARENESS
For the following meditation you will need some paper and a pen - along with a set of coloured pens if possible.
In each section of this meditation you will be given an instruction, followed by a set of questions (including some Clean questions that are shown in bold).
There may be times when answers arise straight away, and other times when you have to sit with your experience for a while before anything arises.
In the first two sections, you may find it helptul to close your eyes after each question as you bring your attention to that particular aspect of your experience.
Think of a recent situation in which you experienced some difficulty.
Do any of the drama roles resonate for you in relation to this situation:
As you think of this situation, bring your attention to any sensations you might be experiencing in your body.
Notice if there is a particular sensation that draws your attention.
Ask yourself the following questions about that sensation:
What kind of sensation is that?
Is there anything else about that sensation?
Whereabouts is that sensation?
Is that sensation on the inside or the outside?
Does that sensation have a size or a shape?
And is there anything else about that sensation?
Now represent that sensation on paper in some way.
This may be in the form of an image, some words, or a diagram.
Ask yourself the following questions about what you have drawn/written:
What do I notice about what I have drawn/written?
Is there anything else I notice about what I have drawn/written?
What was your experience of doing this meditation?
Bringing awareness to our experience in this way can provide a more tangible sense of the sensations that arise for us when we are in drama. These sensations can serve as a kind of 'drama signal', an early warning system that lets us know we need to bring some care and attention to ourselves.
Once you become aware of your drama, there are steps you can take to help you come to calm:
in the moment (to be covered in Part 3); and
after the event (to be covered in Part 4).
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about how you got on with this Drama Meditation. Perhaps you will have your own drama images to share.
* The Drama Triangle was created by Stephen Karpman.
(illustrations by Lucy Monkman - www.lucymonkman.com)